1.0 Introduction

1.1 Purpose and Structure of this Report

The purpose of this report is to provide stakeholders with a detailed briefing on the Agency's performance in implementing its 2007-2010 SD strategy. This report covers the period from April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008 — the first full year of implementation of the Agency's fourth SD strategy.

The report begins by providing background information on the context for the CRA's SD strategy. It examines the legal requirement for the Agency's SD program, outlines the Agency's strategic approach to SD, and the governance framework for SD.

The report continues with a briefing on the Agency's compliance with applicable legislation and regulations. This is followed by a detailed accounting of the results, by goal, achieved against the 2007-2008 SD action plan and EMPs. The discussion includes results and highlights, elements of SD program management, and conclusions drawn from the available facts.

Other dimensions of performance are explored in subsequent sections, including CRA's contribution to Government-wide SD priorities, contributions to intergovernmental SD forums, program costs and benefits, and results of program assessments. Lastly, the report summarizes next steps and priorities for 2008-2009.

1.2 Background

The term "sustainable development" attained global prominence with the publication of Our Common Future by the United Nation's World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987. The document examined the interrelated roles played by society and the economy in environmental degradation, and included the definition for SD that is still in use in 2008:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

SD calls for an approach to decision making that balances the needs of the environment, society and the economy. The approach also recognizes the importance of environmental protection in sustaining both society and the economy. Some have likened SD to living off nature's interest, while leaving the principal intact for future generations.

In 1995, the Government of Canada amended the Auditor General Act to help strengthen the federal government's performance in protecting the environment and promoting SD. Amendments included a legislative requirement for certain departments and agencies to develop SD strategies and to update them every three years. The Agency's 2007-2010 SD strategy was prepared in response to requirements of the Act, and the Government of Canada's SD priorities.

The CESD is an arm of the Auditor General of Canada. It monitors the quality of the SD strategies produced by departments and agencies, and the extent to which they meet their SD commitments. The Commissioner's reports are tabled in the House of Commons.

1.3 Sustainable Development at the CRA

With a workforce of approximately 44,000 employees, working in over 150 facilities in 65 communities across Canada, the CRA has a large operational footprint. Managing the environmental impacts of our operations is therefore a key focus of our SD strategy. This supports the CRA objective of continuous improvements to operational efficiency. By using fewer resources, while optimizing our services, the CRA protects our environment, conserves natural resources, and reduces operating costs. 
The CRA's vision for SD is to be a globally recognized tax and benefits organization for best practices in sustainable development. To move us towards achieving this vision, the SD strategy for 2007-2010 contains four goals that are articulated in a national SD action plan. They are:

  1. reduce the effects of our operations on land, air and water;
  2. demonstrate sustainable service delivery of tax and benefit programs;
  3. all employees apply SD in their jobs; and,
  4. use modern systems that support and maintain SD.

The four SD goals are further divided into nine objectives,which themselves contain 16 targets. 
Targets are divided into the 65 activities that are included in our national SD action plan for 2007-2010. Goal 1 is supported by 29 activities, goal 2 has 14 activities, goal 3 has 13 activities, and the remaining nine activities support goal 4.

The strategy is organized into a hierarchical structure of six levels: 

The CRA's operational focus, and the special significance of environmental protection in the context of SD, is recognized in our strategy. To address environmental protection (i.e., goal 1) we developed an EMS that is modeled after the ISO 14001 EMS standard, and consists of distinct EMPs for each of our environmental aspect. For 2007-2008, we had eight EMPs: fleet, hazardous waste, halocarbons, outside emissions, paper, procurement, solid waste, and storage tanks. The EMPs, which are detailed operational plans, support the objectives of goal 1 of the SD strategy. Both the national SD action plan and EMPs are updated annually to reflect new priorities and opportunities.

The main business of the CRA is to deliver tax and benefit programs on behalf of Canadians. Therefore goal 2 of our SD strategy is dedicated to pursuing more sustainable delivery of those programs.

People and processes are also key considerations in our SD strategy because they are vital partners and agents of change in any organization. Goal 3 is therefore devoted to engaging CRA management and employees in the practices of SD. Goal 4 is dedicated to developing and improving the necessary infrastructure (e.g., tools, systems) for supporting implementation of the SD program.

1.4 CRA Governance for Sustainable Development

Management of the Agency's SD strategy is centered in the SD division of the Finance and Administration Branch, operating from the CRA's national headquarters in Ottawa. The Division leads the development of the Agency's SD strategy and is the CRA's centre of SD expertise. The SD program is implemented by the SD division and an Agency-wide SD network. Additional information on the governance of Agency's SD program can be found in Appendix A of this document.

In addition to the SD strategy, national action plan and EMPs, environmental and SD policies are also included in the SD framework. These policies provide context and direction for action in support of the SD program and are available publicly through the CRA's internet web site.[Footnote 2]

Other key strategies support the implementation of the SD program, including a performance measurement and reporting strategy, and SD learning and communications strategies. More information on the CRA's approach to SD performance measurement and reporting can be found in Appendix B, while a summary of the CRA's communication strategy can be found in Appendix C.


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